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Western’s distinguished women alumni

Putting the spotlight on notable women alumni for Women’s History Month 2017

By: Jade Rayner
News editor

March has been observed as Women’s History Month since 1987, as designated by Congress through Public Law 100-9. Since then, the National Library of Congress, National Gallery of Art and other notable locations use March to “… join in commemorating and encouraging the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history,” according to

Western has had numerous alumni that have made a difference either as educators, politicians and artists among other professions. Actress and painter Ariana Richards is among Western’s distinguished alumni.
Ariana Richards attended Western in 2006. Her career as an actress is expansive; one of her most famous roles being Lex Murphy in “Jurassic Park,” she has also played parts in “Tremors” and “Spaced Invaders” to name a few.

She won the Young Actors Award for “Best Young Actress Starring in a TV movie” both in 1991 and 1992 for her parts in “Switched at Birth,” and “Locked Up: A Mother’s Rage.” The Internet Movie Database credits Richards as, “… one of the most accomplished young artists of her generation.”

In addition to Ariana Richards career as an actor, she is also recognized as an accomplished painter. She is a member of both the Portrait Society of America and the California Art Club. Artists that she credits for her inspiration include John Singer Sargent, Anders Zorn and Mary Cassatt. She focuses on working in a more traditional style with oil paint as her primary medium.

Richards has earned the Art of the West Award of Excellence at the Oil Painters of America Western Regional Competition in 2006; in 2013 she was named the “Official Artist for the Children for Children Organization-Interpretational Painting of Music.”

She has created work for multiple exhibitions, although her current focus is on painting specially commissioned pieces for individuals. Her work can be viewed online at

Nawwal Moustafa, a recent graduate of Western, is the creator of Dreamboat Productions, and works as a teacher at Elevate Oregon, a program aimed at building relationships with urban youth to promote education and leadership skills through year-round mentoring.

Moustafa created and self-published a 54-page coloring book titled “Chin Up, Dreamboat!” in 2016. The production of her coloring book was completely crowdfunded on Kickstarter within five hours, according to The coloring book gained recognition from Buzzfeed, The Daily Dot and Bustle to name a few.

In an interview with, Moustafa stated that, “I had this idea after I ended a relationship where we rushed into some serious commitment … It was a typical, over-committed too soon relationship. So, I created this. As a tool for others, and a tool for myself.”

She went on to explain that she chose a coloring book as an outlet to share her story because it’s interactive, and that “… coloring in the images works as the perfect self-therapy to process all the crappy parts of a breakup – gay or otherwise.”

More information about “Chin Up, Dreamboat!” including how to purchase the book and other available products can be found at

Another distinguished woman is Western’s College of Education Alumni of Special Note Kate Dickson. Since graduating from Western in 1977 with a master of science in education, Dickson has had an active career as an educator.

Her work as vice president of education policy for the Oregon Chalkboard Project has led her to become head of an initiative to instill what’s learned through the Chalkboard Project to teacher preparation programs.

Oregon’s Chalkboard Project is an initiative of Foundations of a Better Oregon. According to their website, the project’s mission is, “… to help create systemic transformation in the quality, accountability and stable funding of Oregon’s K-12 public schools.”
Previous to her work on the Chalkboard Project, Kate Dickson has also been in the roles of Oregon Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction, principal and teacher in the Salem-Keizer school district.

Reflecting on her education, Dickson noted that, “… my graduate work at Western was high quality and established a strong foundation for valuing intellectual rigor, critical thinking, and problem solving complex public education issues.”

More information about her, and other distinguished alumni can be found at

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